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Sage launches Sustainability & Society Strategy 'Knocking Down Barriers' tackling economic inequality and the climate crisis

Sage pledges business mentoring, advice, and support for over 1.2 million people from underrepresented groups around the world and commits to being Net Zero by 2040.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – 1 September 2021Sage (FTSE:SGE), the market leader in cloud business management solutions, has launched its ambitious new global sustainability and society strategy, Knocking Down Barriers, to the South African market. This programme aims to tackle societal and economic inequality and support a new generation of diverse and sustainable businesses.

Sage will play its part in tackling the climate crisis, pledging to be Net Zero by 2040 across its operations and supply chain, with an interim step to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Furthermore, Sage will use the Sage Foundation as a vehicle to support inclusive and sustainable growth across Africa.

Sage serves millions of small and medium businesses (SMEs) around the world. In recent research, Sage found that most SMEs are strongly committed to addressing their environmental and social impact. Over 80% of SMEs think the recovery should be used as an opportunity to promote sustainability, while a third prioritise education and skills as crucial for long-term economic growth.

Pieter Bensch, executive vice-president for Africa & Middle East at Sage, says: "South Africa's small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19 over the past year and have taken yet another blow from the unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. However, small business owners have shown buoyancy and see the challenges of recent months as an opportunity to help rebuild the economy on a bedrock of sustainability, diversity, and community.

"SMEs will need support to navigate the next few months and reach their full potential. Our sustainability and society strategy is built with their views and aspirations in mind. We understand that a large part of our impact as a business comes through enabling SMEs to focus on what they do best, so they can create jobs and prosperity.

"We are pleased to know President Cyril Ramaphosa recognises the pandemic and unrest have taken a toll on SMEs nationwide. The government's quick action could spell the difference between many of these companies surviving the next three months or shutting down."

Sage is building on five years of its successful Sage Foundation with a focus on three strategic pillars:
1. Tackling economic inequality by supporting underrepresented groups

Starting and growing a business is a proven route to long-term employment, high job satisfaction, and wealth creation. Still, many people lack the confidence, skills, and financial support to seize this opportunity.

Sage will provide solid digital and financial foundations for businesses and start-ups run by underrepresented groups to help tackle economic inequality. Sage commits to:

  • A three-year partnership with non-profit lending platform Kiva aimed at improving financial inclusion in communities that find it hard to start or grow their businesses. It will initially support 12,000 entrepreneurs, including many in Africa. Kiva reaches 77 countries and has facilitated $1.6 billion in loans to four million borrowers.
  • Expand its Enterprise and Supplier Development programme in partnership with Aurik Enterprise Development, which currently develops 29 SMEs. In September 2021, Sage will be adding 11 more businesses to the programme to develop them to become Sage Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). The programme focuses on supporting SMEs to scale their businesses, drive profitability, and strengthen their business systems.
  • Continued support for NPOs in Africa that address socioeconomic issues via NPO Success, which empowers NPOs to save time, eliminate errors, reduce costs, achieve compliance and deliver powerful insights. This Sage Foundation programme provides discounted Sage Business Cloud product subscriptions to help non-profit leaders deliver their organisation's mission. It also provides free tools, resources, and community support to increase their understanding of finance practices, improve their non-profit's organisational financial literacy, and build their networks.
2. Tackling digital inequality for innovation, enterprise and progress

According to the World Economic Forum, 70% of new value created in the global economy over the next decade will be based on digitally enabled business models. Sage wants everyone to benefit from the opportunities created by this rapid digitalisation.

Sage dedicates its technology, time and experience to knocking down the barriers to digital equality and diversity in the technology sector. Building on its longstanding work through Sage Foundation, Sage is committing to further investment in its Futuremakers programme to give young people access to Artificial Intelligence (AI) education and awareness via an online learning platform.

Futuremakers in South Africa supports organisations such as Melisizwe Computer Labs Project, aiming to develop 6,000 fully qualified, innovative IT professionals by 2025. Hundreds of young South Africans have attended Futuremakers workshops – like Blessing from Mamelodi who aspires to create an AI solution for translating sign language to help people like his hearing-impaired cousin.

Sage has also partnered with the Youth Employment Service (YES) organisation and has created employment for 160 youths from previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Some 50 youths have been placed within the Sage business partner ecosystem to train them on Sage solutions, sales and technical skills, and transfer workplace experience.

A further 110 young professionals have been placed with an external partner to enable inclusive growth in the digital economy and build a pipeline of future-ready employees with market-relevant digital skills to meet industry demands. They will be trained as junior software developers, junior digital administrators and junior data administrators.

3. Tackling the climate crisis by powering sustainable business models

Further to supporting SMEs in understanding and addressing their environmental impact, Sage confirms its ambition to get to Net Zero by 2040 across scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by reducing the impact of its business operations, cutting emissions by 50% by 2030, and effectively managing its supply chain impact.

Sage is also committing to the SBTi (science-based target initiative), the United Nations (UN) climate change Race to Zero and signing up to the UN Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5°C Pathway. Sage continues to participate in the annual CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) and is rated AA by MSCI and low-risk by Sustainalytics, supporting the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

To achieve its commitments, Sage will implement emission reduction initiatives such as:

  • Reducing air travel and hotel stays across the Group.
  • Transitioning to renewable energy in all Sage offices by joining the RE100 Initiative.
  • Transitioning its car fleet to electric vehicles by joining the EV100 Initiative.
  • Engaging with suppliers to better understand their emission reduction plans to mutually benefit our Net Zero journeys.
  • Investing in certified projects to offset any emissions that can't be cut completely.
  • Introducing a green grants programme to support African charities that protect the planet. Sage is already working with NPOs in Tanzania to provide renewable energy solutions to children that live in remote off-grid communities.
Knocking Down Barriers Report – International SME perspectives

Sage surveyed 11,504 SME decision makers working in businesses employing 250 or fewer people in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain, and South Africa about their perspectives on sustainability, diversity, community, and digital inequality. You can download the full report here.


Notes to Editors

Kiva is an international non-profit founded in 2005 in San Francisco, with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive.

For media queries:

Idea Engineers (PR agency for Sage)
Thuli Lamani | [email protected] | +27 (0)83 716 2572